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Holsclaw v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

June 14, 2017

JUDITH MARIE HOLSCLAW, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1]Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF REMAND

          David S. Cayer United States Magistrate Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's “Motion for Summary Judgment” (document #14) and Defendant's “Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings” (document #15), as well as the parties' briefs and exhibits.

         The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and these Motions are now ripe for disposition.

         Having considered the written arguments, administrative record, and applicable authority, the Court finds that Defendant's decision to deny Plaintiff Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) is not supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment; deny Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; reverse the Commissioner's decision; and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this Memorandum and Order.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The procedural history is not in dispute. The Court adopts the procedural history as stated in the parties' briefs.

         Plaintiff filed the present action on October 12, 2016. She assigns error to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)'s treatment of the consultative opinion from John H. Bevis, M.A., LPA, a licensed psychological associate, and to the ALJ's formulation of her mental Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”).[2] See Plaintiff's “Memorandum ...” at 3-5 (document #14-1).

         The parties' cross-Motions are ripe for disposition.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and § 1383(c)(3), limits this Court's review of a final decision of the Commissioner to: (1) whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's decision, Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390, 401 (1971); and (2) whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Hunter v. Sullivan, 993 F.2d 31, 34 (4th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). The District Court does not review a final decision of the Commissioner de novo. Smith v.

         Schweiker, 795 F.2d 343, 345 (4th Cir. 1986); King v. Califano, 599 F.2d 597, 599 (4th Cir. 1979); Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773, 775 (4th Cir. 1972).

         As the Social Security Act provides, “[t]he findings of the [Commissioner] as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). In Smith v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1176, 1179 (4th Cir. 1986), quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971), the Fourth Circuit defined “substantial evidence” thus:

Substantial evidence has been defined as being “more than a scintilla and do[ing] more than creat[ing] a suspicion of the existence of a fact to be established. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”

See also Seacrist v. Weinberger, 538 F.2d 1054, 1056-57 (4th Cir. 1976) (“We note that it is the responsibility of the [Commissioner] and not the courts to reconcile ...


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